The demobats swarmed around Eddie as he stood in the middle of the street in the Upside Down; Vecna’s world. He gripped the spear and shield he had made with a tin can lid. If this was his last moment, he knew he would die fighting. As the bats swarmed, some tried attacking him, but he fought hard until they knocked his weapons out of his hands.
“This is it,” he whispered as a bat knocked him to his back.
“No!” Dustin cried, running up to rescue his friend. “Leave. My. Friend. Alone!”
As if some sort of miracle happened, the bats suddenly fell to the ground. Leaving Eddie and Dustin perplexed. Dustin helped his slightly injured friend to his feet.
“What just happened?” Dustin asked.
“I think we won…” Eddie said.
They looked around and met each other’s gaze and smiled with screams of joy. As they made their way back to the trailer where the portal was located, something strange happened in the Upside Down as it flickered. Eddie rushed to get Dustin through the gate to send him back to Hawkins.
“What the hell is going on?” Eddie asked himself as he quickly climbed up the rope and fell through the darkness.
He kicked his feet and threw his arms around as he continued to fall into nothingness. Dustin was nowhere in sight and he couldn’t see where he need to be.
“Shit!” he yelled, hitting something really hard. “What the hell…”
“Eddie!” Dustin’s voice called. “Are you okay? That was a hard fall.”
Eddie started snickering and soon began laughing uncontrollably. “That was intense! I thought I’d never stop falling.”
“Dude, you were gone for fifteen minutes,” Dustin said, a worried look on his face.
Eddie sat up and looked at his young friend. “Better late than never, I guess. We should find the others.”
“We should find everyone,” Dustin said, standing to the side so Eddie could see what was going on.
The trailer park he once called home looked as though no one had to live there in years. The roof and side of his home were gone, and weeds sprouted every direction. Eddie slowly stood up, his mouth opening and closing as if he was trying to find words for what he was seeing.
“What the hell happened here?” Eddie asked.
“It looks like no one has been here forever,” Dustin said, following his friend out of the trailer. “Where do you think Nancy and the others are, Eddie?”
“I’m not sure. Check the walkie,” Eddie said, looking around.
Trailers were falling apart and where Max lived, overgrown with weeds. Dustin swatted the air as he followed Eddie around, trying to patch through the walkie-talkie.
“I’m not getting anything,” Dustin said. “What is this stuff in the air?”
Eddie was investigating something in Max’s yard. Dustin leaned over his shoulder and saw the remains of Max’s dog and the fence was down. Suddenly, a noise from behind Max’s trailer caused Eddie and Dustin to be on their toes.
“What was that?” Dustin asked, standing closer to his friend. “Do you think someone is here?”
“Quiet for a minute,” Eddie said, slowly making his way to where the noise was coming from.
They could hear sounds of a tin can as it rolled from behind the trailer. Eddie and Dustin looked at each other, confused and concerned. Low growling sounds came from behind the home and soon what it was came into view. Dustin and Eddie’s mouths dropped as a somewhat familiar face looked at them with dead eyes.
“Hey, Dustin? Isn’t that Max’s mom?” Eddie asked, fear striking him.
The two friends watched as the woman’s corpse sniffed the air. It appeared as though she couldn’t see them as she sauntered past. Eddie and Dustin shared glances, and Dustin let out a loud sigh. A loud shrill scream came from Max’s mother and she pivoted quickly and started running towards them. She went for Eddie first, who was closest, and knocked him onto his back.
“Shit, shit, shit!” Dustin repeated, looking around for something to hit her with.
“Now would be a good time, Dustin!” Eddie yelled, fighting for his life as the unusually strong corpse snapped at his face.
Just when he thought he’d seen it all; Eddie thought. He clasped her wrists, trying to keep his face away from hers as some sort of liquid dripped from her mouth. Eddie gagged and nearly lost his grip on her.
“Dustin! Help!” Eddie said in a panic. He could feel his muscles burning and her face inching closer to his. The smell that protruded from her body was horrendous. She smelled like rotten meat, as if she had been dead for days. From the look of her decomposing body, Max’s mom looked to be dead for several days.
Suddenly, she fell over with a grunt. Dustin held a bat he found lying around and began hitting her repeatedly until she stopped moving. Eddie stood up, panting. He wiped his brow and huffed.
“What the hell is she?” Dustin asked, poking her with the bat.
“My guy, she looks to be a zombie,” Eddie said, taking the bat from him and touching her on the shoulder to see if she’d move. He looked around and covered his nose and mouth with a cloth and motioned for Dustin to do the same. “I may not be an expert on zombies, but I think we should get out of here. Something isn’t right. We need to find help.”
They found bikes lying about near a trailer and rode straight into town, hoping to find someone who might know what was going on. The trek was eerily quiet, without a soul in sight.
“Maybe we should check Nancy’s house,” Dustin suggested. “Or Will’s…”
Eddie shook his head slowly. “If this is a town emergency, we should check city hall of the high school. Keep your eyes peeled. I have a bad feeling about this.”
They peddled to the city hall, but someone boarded it up. Eddie growled in annoyance as he looked around for an entrance. He could detect a strong smell through a small hole in a window.
“I don’t think we’ll find help here,” Eddie said, backing away from the building. “Let’s move on.”
“Eddie,” Dustin said, his voice shaky. “I’m scared… What if we’re the only ones here? We should’ve heard from the others by now.”
“I’m not really sure what’s going on,” Eddie said. “But we need to be really carefully because we don’t know what we’re up against.”
Dustin nodded in agreement, and they touched fists. The journey to the high school wasn’t easy, as they came into contact with a horde of walking corpses. The duo found a place to hide behind a dumpster at the back of the school.
“Okay, we need to find a way inside,” Eddie said, examining the scene before them. “There must be people inside. The place looks closed up.”
“What if we can’t get inside?” Dustin asked. “It doesn’t look like there are any entrance points and I don’t want to become food for these things.”
“I’ll create a distraction while you run down the alley over there,” Eddie said, tying on a headband. “I’ll meet you at the front of the building.”
“What if that doesn’t work? I don’t think separating is such a good idea right now, Eddie,” Dustin said, panicked.
“Look, man, we’ve handled stranger things,” Eddie smiled, resting a hand on his friend’s shoulder. “I mean, we defeated creatures worse than zombies.”
Dustin nodded, feeling hyped up. His smile disappeared. “But we don’t know a thing about these zombies.”
“I guess we’ll just have to figure that out as we go along then,” Eddie said, trying not to sound worried for his friend’s sake. “Let’s do this!”
Without anymore hesitation, Eddie stepped out into the open and was about to yell to grab the attention of the corpses. Suddenly, a loud noise coming from the front of the school caused the horde to walk in that direction. Eddie went back to his hiding place and watched them with Dustin, confused.
“What do you think that noise was?” Dustin asked.
Eddie shrugged and crouched low, and quietly followed the horde to the front. Eddie thought these corpses being slow was a good thing. That meant escaping would be easier for them if need be. But Dustin was right about one thing; they didn’t know a thing about them. Did they always walk slow or was there something more behind all of this and how did this happen to them?
Eddie wiped his brow, watching where he stepped as not to alert the dead. There were so many questions and no one was around to answer them. He remembered Max’s mother. Was there a plague going around causing people to become infected and turn?
“Eddie, look! A girl over there on the roof of the school bus,” Dustin whispered, grasping the sleeve of his jacket.
Sure enough, a girl around Eddie’s age was standing on top of a bus wielding an ax. She continued to stomp the top of the bus with her feet, attracting a lot of walking dead. Eddie’s eyes grew wide at the amount of bodies that surrounded the bus.
“How the hell is she going to get down?” Dustin asked, as if he read Eddie’s mind. “Those things have her surrounded!”
Apart from the snarling dead and the horrific stench that was in the air and not know how these things were, Eddie knew he needed to help her. There was no way she could get away without becoming lunch. Unless she wasn’t alone.
Eddie looked around, trying to think up a plan to rescue her. The girl was still making noise. Something she suddenly said caused him to look at her.
“Are you two deaf?” she yelled. “I said get out of here and get into the school!”
Dustin’s mouth dropped, and he was about to say something, but Eddie grabbed him by the collar of his shirt and dragged him away from the school.
“Eddie, we have to help her! Where are we going?” Dustin protested.
“To grab a ride,” Eddie said, pointing to a truck in the parking lot. “We can run over those bitches and she can jump in the back of the truck.”
“We don’t even know if this will work,” Dustin said in a whiny voice.
“Only one way to find out! Your job is to be at the front door. Because when I get her, we’re coming towards you and you better have that door ready!” Eddie said, jumping in the driver’s seat and hot-wiring the engine. “Get a move on Henderson!”
“This is crazy,” Dustin said, running towards the front of the school.
Eddie gripped the steering wheel and gulped. This could go two ways; Good or bad. He fought bats from another dimension, so zombies should be a piece of cake, right? He put the truck into drive and took a deep breath before hitting the gas. The bus came into view and the girl was hitting bodies off of the hood as they started climbing on top of each other. He blew the horn loudly, and she followed him with her eyes.
He tried not to blink as he went full force into the horde. The girl jump into the back of the truck but Eddie froze as he got a closeup of some of the dead.
“Go!” the girl yelled from the back, hitting a few with her ax.
Eddie quickly put the car into reverse and saw Dustin waving his arms at the front through the back window of the truck. He maneuvers the truck around and away from the buses and hits the accelerator. The girl jumped out of the back and rolled. Eddie right behind her. Somehow, they both got into the school without a problem. Dustin closed the doors and barred it. One by one, the bodies hit the door with force, causing them to move.
“We’re not safe here,” the girl said, trotting down the hall. “They can hear everything from a pin dropping to a loud noise. We need to get away from the front door.”
Dustin and Eddie exchanged glances but followed her to the back of the school towards the courtyard. No one spoke a word the entire time. Eddie couldn’t help but sneak a few glances at the girl. Her dark hair was in a shoulder length ponytail, her clothes looked like they had seen better days. The girl’s hand wrapped to grip the ax better.
“It’s safe here,” she said, opening a door to a room.
They had boarded the windows up tightly so no lighting from the outside could escape inside. She closed the door behind them and started unwrapping her hands.
“So,” Dustin said, breaking the awkward silence. “I’m Dustin and this is Eddie. What’s your name? And how the hell did you know we were in trouble?”
She winced as she removed the last bandage from her hand. “I’m Amora Clark. I saw you two from the roof of the school. It looked like you were about to do something stupid.”
“So you countered it with some even more stupid?” Dustin said. “Bad ass.”
Amora smirked and poured water over her burned hands. “Shit…”
“Let me,” Eddie offered. “Thanks for helping us. We owe you…”
She winced once more from the sting of the water on her blistered hands. Eddie added ointment that she had on the desk and wrapped her hands comfortably.
“You can repay the debt soon enough,” she said, tightening and loosening her fists. “Why does it look like you two just discovered what’s going on?”
“We did,” Dustin said. “We’ve had a crazy day. How long has Hawkins been like this?”
Amora threw each of them a bottled water. “At least three years.”
Eddie and Dustin looked at each other in shock. How was that even possible? They weren’t in the Upside Down for very long. He tried wrapping his brain around it. The first time he went through the gate to the Upside Down, it was a quick second until he reached the other side. Eddie thought about when he returned to his world and how long it took him to appear. Dustin had told him he took him fifteen minutes to show up. Was there a glitch in time?
“Why do you two look like you’ve seen a ghost?” Amora asked, waving her hand in front of Eddie’s face.
“It’s a long story,” Dustin said, chuckling nervously, and explained.
Amora tapped her chin with her index finger and shook her head. “That’s a wild story, Dustin.”
“I know. But it’s true. If a zombie can be real, then another dominion can be, too,” Dustin said.
“I never said it wasn’t real,” Amora said, throwing up her hands as if to defend herself. “And I never said I didn’t believe you. When I first moved to Hawkins, it felt a little off. As if something was controlling this town.”
“Do you know what caused the zombies?” Eddie asked.
Amora nodded slowly. “Yes, and no. I saw someone turn into one of those things. It was strange. I was walking home from school and there were these weird red flakes flying around all over the place. A man was out walking his dog and he started coughing uncontrollably. Next thing I know, he’s snacking on his dog.”
Eddie and Dustin stared at her in disbelief. They couldn’t image how it must’ve felt for her to see such a scene. Amora took a deep breath and sat down.
“I couldn’t move for the longest time. When I backed away to run, I hit a metal trash can, and he came running after me. I’m not a runner, but that’ll get you moving,” Amora continued. “Soon, I found a place to hide, and I discovered these things have hyped up hearing and can’t see very well. As long as I stayed quiet, I was safe.”
“So, do you think whatever was in the air caused him to change?” Dustin asked.
“I’m not sure. Because I was in it and I’m fine,” she said with a shrug. “And I’m sure the two of you have been exposed to it as well.”
A loud bang came from the hallway of the empty high school. The trio exchanged glances and Eddie peaked through the curtain hanging on the large window that looked out into the hall.
“Get away from the window,” Amora whispered, tugging on Eddie’s arm.
He had only looked away from the window for a second, but when he turned to look back out into the hall, dead eyes stared back at him. Eddie felt his body grow cold, as if his soul had left him. Amora quickly closed the curtain and they all hide behind desks that were stacked as a barricade. There was nowhere to go if this thing got in; Eddie thought.
It sounded as if the corpse was throwing its body against the window as loud, unsettling noises came from the hall. Dustin breathed heavily, anxiously. Eddie sat up against the wall, looking at Amora for a plan. Her facial expression was hard to read. He wasn’t sure if she even had a plan to escape if they needed to.
Everyone’s body tensed up as the sound of glass breaking filled their ears. What now?
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